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August 7, 2013

Old fishing gear converted to energy

From ocean to outlet

HAVERHILL — Turn on a light in your home and imagine it is powered by an old, ripped fishing net.

Hard to imagine?

How about a broken lobster trap? Or a buoy that can no longer float?

Stop imagining. It’s really happening.

Trucks bring all sorts of trash to Covanta’s Waste-to-Energy facility in Haverhill, where most of it is converted to energy while metal is collected and recycled.

One load of junk that was recently delivered helped clear the deck, so to speak, for commercial fisherman looking for a cost-free way of disposing of old, unused fishing gear, as well as derelict gear that can pose a threat to marine life.

Through a program called “Fishing for Energy,” commercial fishermen are provided with no-cost opportunities to dispose of old and unused fishing gear that can clutter docks and boat decks. They can get rid of the gear without digging into their pockets to pay disposal costs.

On July 29, a container truck pulled into the Covanta plant in Ward Hill and dropped off load of gear that included damaged nets, broken lobster traps and buoys, rope and other fishing equipment that was no longer usable.

“This is the kind of stuff that was beyond repair,” said Covanta spokeswoman Meg Morris.

She said that in the past, fishermen had to pay to dispose of old gear, but under this program Covanta picks up the discarded gear and brings it to the Haverhill plant, where it is converted into clean energy that is fed into the power grid.

Morris said fishermen load unusable fishing gear into bins that are provided to fishing ports that request them. When the bins are full they are picked up by a truck and delivered to the Haverhill facility, she said.

A significant milestone was reached on July 29 when Covanta Haverhill surpassed the 300,000 pound program-to-date mark of total derelict fishing gear processed at the Energy-from-Waste facility in Ward Hill, officials there said.

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